Trial Balloon

Trial Balloon: May 6, 2010 Archive

Password Protected

Posted at 6:05 AM on May 6, 2010 by Dale Connelly (40 Comments)

I have a password that protects my computer and another one that blocks access to my e-mail. Different word puzzles guard the fences that surround my online subscriptions and accounts, the WiFi router at home and the set of remote speakers I've hooked up in my living room. The cell phone has a password. So does the garage door.

Yes, an intruder will have to jump many hurdles in order to get close to my stuff. And a little bit of online research reveals that a hacker armed with code cracking software who is determined to breech the ramparts I've constructed will be able to do it in about ten minutes. And an eight year old without the software who has no cartoons to distract her could do it in half that time.

It's pretty clear that the culprit who has the hardest time getting past my defenses is me.

I choose new passwords based on how easily I think I'll be able to remember them, and then I forget them anyway. After regularly checking my carefully hidden (not in the desk drawer!) cheat slip I slowly begin to learn my own secret and just when I've mastered it the system administrator says it's time to change to a new one.

I suffer mental paralysis trying to think of something fresh that is both memorable and obscure. The brain is a bottomless mystery.

One common suggestion for creating good passwords is to combine a key phrase with an important date and then alternate the characters in a familiar pattern that also includes the fifth letter from the end of the name of the website or device you're trying to protect.

I have no idea what that means. I'm thinking of making that last sentence my new password - it's incomprehensible.

Using mnemonic devices is also a highly recommended strategy to craft a good password. To me, that means it's limerick time.

A manager given the sack,
Made up passwords too complex to crack.
He had walled off each file
With incomparable guile
So the company hired him back.

A poor woman from East Billabong
Set her firewall ten times too strong
Though she wanted to sin
No one else could log in
How can so many Aussies be wrong?

A computer programmer named Bud
Thought up passwords, and each one - a dud.
All his programs got hacked
All his data - ransacked
And his name became digital mud.

Please list all your favorite passwords below.
Just kidding. How do you face the password conundrum?
And if it leads to a limerick, so be it!

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